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Hundreds of migrants try to storm Channel Tunnel

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Hundreds of migrants try to storm Channel Tunnel
Migrants walk along railway tracks at the Eurotunnel terminal on July 28, 2015 in Calais-Frethun. Photo: AFP
08:04 CEST+02:00
Hundreds of migrants tried to storm the Channel Tunnel for the second successive night on Tuesday as the crisis reached a new peak. UK Prime Minister said the situation at Calais was "concerning".

Hundreds of migrants desperate to reach England made around 1,500 attempts to enter the Eurotunnel terminal overnight in
the French port town of Calais, a police source told AFP Wednesday, adding that one person was found dead.

"Our team found a corpse this morning and the firefighters have confirmed the death of this person," added a spokesman for Eurotunnel.

"Everything happened overnight, and at 6 am (0400 GMT), the police still have quite a lot of work to do," said the police source, adding that "between 500 and 1,000 migrants" were still around the tunnel site.

Speaking on Wednesday Morning UK Prime Minister David Cameron said the situation was "very concerning" and that Britain was "doing everything we can" to prevent such incidents, including investing in fencing around the area, adding he did not want to "point fingers at people to blame".

The migrant, a man of Sudanese origin believed to be aged between 25 and 30, was hit by a truck that was leaving a cross-Channel ferry, the police source said.

The latest fatality brings the number of migrants who died near the Channel Tunnel Tunnel terminal site to nine since June.

Tuesday night's attempts to storm the Channel Tunnel came the night after migrants made around 2,000 attempts to get to Britain through the same way on Monday night. 

"It was the biggest incursion effort in the past month and a half," said a spokesman for Eurotunnel, which is battling often deadly efforts by migrants to smuggle into Britain.

As the crisis reached new levels Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May announced that the UK would stump up a further €7million towards improving security in Calais following talks in London with her French counterpart Bernard Cazeneuve.

For several weeks, there have been many attempts by large numbers of to enter the Eurotunnel premises.

Security at the Calais port was stepped up in mid-June, driving migrants who previously tried to stow away on trucks that take ferries across the Channel to try their luck smuggling through the undersea tunnel.

The migrants were trying to enter the site "between midnight and 6:00 am," the Eurotunnel spokesman said.

"All our security personnel, that is nearly 200 people, as well as police were called in," he added.

The incident caused serious delays to the Eurotunnel service for much of Tuesday, with passengers held up for around an hour on the British side and 30 minutes on the French side.

 

A French police source said the migrants did not try to force their way all at once, and that the figure of 2,000 related to the total number of incursion attempts -- not of migrants.

Up to three migrants were hurt trying to board the trains, he said.

Since the beginning of June, eight migrants have died trying to enter the tunnel.

The port at Calais has been mostly closed since June because of a dispute between ferry staff from France's MyFerryLink and the Eurotunnel group, which owns the boats.

Many migrants have tried to take advantage of the backed-up traffic to jump onto trucks making their way towards the harbour.

According to the last official count in early July, around 3,000 migrants, mainly from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan and Afghanistan, were camped out in Calais

British Home Secretary Theresa May said her government would put up an additional seven million pounds
(€9.8 million ) to help France secure the Eurotunnel site on its side of the Channel.

"We're dealing with terrible criminal gangs," she said.

"We agreed that we will work together to return migrants, particularly to West Africa, to ensure that people see that making this journey does not mean that they are being able to settle in Europe."

The Eurotunnel company itself is seeking 9.7 million euros ($10.67 million) from the British and French governments in compensation for disruption caused by illegal migrants.

Cazeneuve accused the company in a letter Tuesday, the content of which was seen by AFP, of not taking the necessary security measures.

"First of all I would like you to ask yourself about the human resources you are planning on dedicating to secure the site," Cazeneuve said in the letter, noting that the company has slashed two thirds of its security staff since 2002

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